About a half dozen players attended the hearing, including Oilers forward Sam Gagner, goaltender Devan Dubnyk and veteran Ryan Smyth.
The lockout began last weekend and some players are already signing with European teams for the season. There have been no formal talks between the two sides since Sept. 12. Training camps were to have opened Friday. The league has already canceled preseason games through Sept. 30.
“No one gets to choose what labor laws apply to them in this province,” Blair said. “The law is the law is the law.”
He said players from the Oilers and Flames never agreed to forgo their rights under the Alberta Labour Code.
“It applies to every employer and employee,” he said. “That is the starting point.”
NHL lawyer Peter Gall pointed out that 23 of the 30 teams are in the United States and work under the same rules because labor laws there are federally regulated.
Bill Daly, the league’s deputy commissioner, told the panel there has never been individual bargaining between players and their teams. He said it’s important all teams operate under the same rules.
Blair countered by saying the way the league and union operated in the past is irrelevant.
“It would be extremely destabilizing to how we do business and how we conduct this sports league,” he said. “I don’t know how we would proceed in the face of separate units in Alberta.”
Last week, players from the Montreal Canadiens launched a similar case in Quebec. The labor board there turned down their request for a temporary injunction against the lockout, but also ruled that more hearings are needed to make a final decision on the application. No date for those hearings has been set.